The Anambra State House of Assembly has passed a bill that now makes marriages involving people living with sickle cell anemia or incompatible genotypes punishable under the law.
The ‘Sickle Cell Disease Control and Eradication Repeal law’ bars parents, guardians, traditional rulers or any group of persons from giving out their children/wards in marriages without presentation of a certificate of verification by a qualified sickle cell expert of their genotypes.
The law states that “Anybody who contravenes the provisions of this section shall be guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N200,000 or imprisonment to a term of three years or both.”
It also provided that no religious body or marriage registry shall perform Holy Matrimony without first demanding and obtaining sickle cell disease prevention certificate from intending couples.
The law when it becomes effective shall also put in place a monitoring committee to ensure compliance.
The bill, sponsored by the member representing Anaocha II state constituency, Charles Ezeani and 15 others, seeks to eradicate sickle cell disease in the state by checkmating marriages among people with incompatible genotypes.
The co-sponsor of the bill, Charles Ezeani, reacting to the new pronounjcemt by the legislatures described the law as life-saving.
“The development would put a stop to the notion that love is blind by ensuring that intending couples must present their genotype test before marriage.”
Also the National Coordinator of People Living with Sickle Cell Disease, APLSCD, Aisha Edwards, who was also at the assembly, expressed his satisfaction with the new law and thanked the lawmakers for enacting the law.
She noted that the law above other things bars all forms of discriminatory practices against carriers of the disease, both in employment and admission into schools.